17 January 2023

Woden deserves its own all-year aquatic centre and 50m pool, says community council

| Ian Bushnell
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Phillip pool entrance

Future limited: Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The ACT Government should have already planned for an all-year aquatic centre in Woden to replace the ageing and ailing Phillip pool, according to the Woden Valley Community Council.

The open-air, 50-metre Phillip pool has been out of action since 2021 due to ongoing maintenance issues and now the site is likely to go under apartments after being sold to property developer Geocon.

Under the current lease, Geocon will need to continue operating the pool and the ice skating rink, but the draft Territory Plan allows redevelopment of the site with the condition that a public 25-metre pool, smaller warm water pool and toddlers pool be provided.

READ ALSO Government finds cool $16m for ice sports facility in Tuggeranong

But WVCC president Fiona Carrick said “we can do better than a 25-metre pool in a huge apartment complex”.

“The government should have had a plan, whether the plan was to buy the existing site or develop another site, to provide aquatic services to the community and not leave everything to the private sector.”

Ms Carrick said Woden would be home to thousands of new residents in coming years, as well as being a regular destination for 6500 CIT students, and a 25-metre pool would not cut it.

Fiona Carrick

President of the Woden Valley Community Council Fiona Carrick says Woden needs a 50-metre pool. Photo: File.

It would not be big enough to cater for the demand from lap and recreational swimmers, schools and other users, or deep enough for water polo.

She said many developments had their own small private pools but these did not create a greater sense of community.

“Densification also needs to cater to the social needs of the community that’s going to live there,” Ms Carrick said.

She said Woden was centrally located with good public transport links from across Canberra’s south but it had lost social and sporting facilities over the years, forcing people into their cars to access facilities.

Woden’s recreation precinct had lost its basketball stadium, pitch ‘n’ putt, bowling greens, tennis courts and now the pool and ice rink are at risk.

It was about putting the right infrastructure in the right place.

“If you want people to be active you need to make it convenient for them and put the public facilities where they can get to them by public transport,” Ms Carrick said.

“Woden is a no-brainer for where community facilities should be, but they’re just gone.”

READ ALSO EV registrations double in past year as ACT leads uptake

Ms Carrick dismissed suggestions that the new Stromlo Leisure Centre in Wright also catered for Woden.

The town centres were designed to provide their own social infrastructure and be destinations that support small business, but she feared Woden was at risk of becoming a big transit hub.

Sport and Recreation Minister Yvette Berry said that while the government was open to ideas from the community, the government did not have any plans at this stage for an aquatic centre in Woden.

She said Geocon had publicly committed to getting the pool up and running again and operating the ice rink but she would know more about its long-term intentions for the site after meeting with the company.

The government has decided to back a new ice sports facility in Tuggeranong, committing $16 million to the project.

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This is yet more evidence that Labor/Greens are just convenient GeoCon glove puppets. One by one our community facilities are taken away. Bit by bit our green spaces are diminished. The Woden pool and Woden Pitch n Putt were community assets, public recreational places that have been handed over by an uncaring Labor/Greens government to it’s corporate developer. Woden pool is a large outdoor pool with trees where kids can run around on grassy banks and families relax. Deakin pool is a small private indoor facility and no substitute. The loss of Woden pool is another loss to all of Canberra.

Pitch and putt was not a community facility. It was owned by one of the clubs (Think Southern Cross). The land was sold/developed by them not the evil government.

As for the pool at Woden it’s always been a strange arrangement, government but not government. Me personally Woden should get a 50m indoor facility I however have no problem with a facility hat can only be used half the year that is old and out of date being sold for redevelopment, so long of course that a better replacement in the same general area is provided.

This ACT government keeps saying they want people to use public transport, but then they take amenities away from places that are easily accessible by public transport and put them where they’re only accessible by car. Stupid. Wake up Labor / Greens and do your job of supporting all residents, not just those with cars.

Woden needs a pool and it is a central location accessible to all Canberrans by public transport. Such a pool could also be a valuable adjunct to Canberra Hospital especially for arthritis sufferers, rehabilitation for those with injuries and recreation for a whole range of people with mobility limits and even for mental health patients, as swimming is a fun low impact exercise that can be enjoyed by most people.

Labor has underestimated community sentiment on this one. After losing Deakin pool, Deakin health spa some years ago and now losing our 50m pool in Phillip, Woden residents have rightly had enough. The area has a rapidly growing population, because of the Green Labor obsession with cramming more people into apartment blocks, and it deserves to have its 50m pool maintained. I would be interested to know what contact the government had with Geocon before the recent sale. What discussions took place about permitting the closure of the community’s pool for another Geocon apartment block. Would make for an interesting FOI.

I totally agree with Fiona. You can’t keep bringing people in to live in the town centre, as well as to CIT, and the workers there, and then remove facilities. WHY are there no plans for a public pool in Woden, Ms Berry? If the new owners don’t want to fix and reopen the pool, they should surrender the lease so it can go to someone who will. Woden is central and easily accessed by public transport, so it makes perfect sense to keep the pool complex in its current position.

Martin Miller12:39 pm 17 Jan 23

“‘ the government(ACT Labor) did not have any plans at this stage for an aquatic centre in Woden.” Why not . Several consultant reports suggested we need a facility in Woden . It was the ACT Labor Government who granted the 99 yr lease. The Stromlo facility was never designed for Woden or inner south residents. It wasn’t even designed for Weston Creek residents given its final location. Woden community were never consulted on the location of the new pool site . https://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-26/act-labor-weston-creek-promise/4281114

Where on earth are the Canberra Liberals on this issue ?? Labor has ignored the Woden area for years & should pay a political price.

As a Woden side of Deakin resident I agree with you, but voting in extra Liberal members just seems to make the Labor Greens government more angry about a region.

Tuggeranong Brindabella electorate went 3 Liberal MLA’s and the ACT Government did even less for the area. If you want the pork barrel in your area you seem to have to vote in even more Labor Greens MLA’s like inner north electorate.

Labor greens are just playing to their 50% quota. Anymore more is wasted effort.
Liberals are better off splitting into different groups and targeting different regions.
The current regime is short changing the 49% of Canberra.

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